The Colorado Mammoth are coming off their fourth two-week break between matches this season heading into this weekend’s back-to-back games against the Georgia Swarm and the Buffalo Bandits. It will be their first of two back-to-back game weekends this month and will be the team’s first two-game weekend since last March.
There has been ample time between so many of the Mammoth’s games this season, and It has made it harder for the team to work on its chemistry. But, Mammoth head coach Pat Coyle is hopeful that their seven-game stretch this March, starting with the two matches this weekend, can begin to show this team’s true identity.
“I believe that steel is forged through fire,” Coyle said. “This is an opportunity this weekend to really forge who we are as a team.”
Mammoth fans can be sure they will see plenty of Stephen Keogh who has picked up his game of late. In the Mammoth’s three games in February, Keogh posted a team-best nine goals and added eight assists which are the kind of numbers that Coyle has been hoping for from the right-hander since the team traded for him mid-season last year.
“Keogh has found his groove. That’s why we traded for him last year, to play how he is now,” Coyle stated. “If you look back at some of the years he’s had, he’s not a guy we’re worried about going forward.”
Regarding preparing for the Eastern Conference-leading Bandits, Coyle understands that it will be a challenge to stop some of Buffalo’s top-scorers such as Josh Byrne and Jordan Durston. Not to mention, the Mammoth now only have a couple of days to rework their gameplay to prepare for a Bandits lineup that just acquired Shawn Evans in a trade that sent Callum Crawford to the New England Black Wolves.
“We want to keep those guys to the outside as much as we can,” Coyle said of stopping the Bandits offensive threats. “I think the best thing that we can do is try to push them to the outside and give them the shots that we want them to give them.”
Coyle and assistant coaches Dan Stroup and Chris Gill are still working out who will play on which day, but the hope is that all the players will stay healthy and fit for both games this weekend. However, there is a good chance they’ll make lineup adjustments between Friday and Saturday’s games.
The Mammoth will be flying out to Georgia on Thursday morning and will then hold a team practice that evening. The team will then have a shoot-around early on Friday morning before preparing for the game at 7:35 pm EST later that night. Whether they win or lose on Friday, the Mammoth will then be taking an early flight on Saturday morning in preparation for their battle with the Bandits.
For the team to get to their games and practices on time, they will need there to be no travel issues which have interfered with other players and teams already this year. The weather looks mostly sunny in Denver and Atlanta this weekend, so there should be no travel hiccups as they take their two cross-country flights. All the team will have to do is stay focused and fit on their travels if they want to come out of the weekend with two wins.
A pair of wins this weekend would give the Mammoth a little more comfort in the second-seed of the Western Conference ahead of a surging Calgary Roughnecks team -they play the Roughnecks on March 10th- that is riding several impressive performances from their 20-year-old goalkeeper Christian Del Bianco.
The wins won’t come easily, though. Both the Bandits and the Swarm have picked up their play over the last month or so. Since starting the season 0-3, the Swarm have won three of their last five games while the Bandits have won four of their last five following an 0-3 start themselves.
Saturday’s home game versus the Bandits will be their 5th “303: Colorado Pride Night” in celebration of Colorado Day. As mentioned in the press release, “Mammoth players will wear their fan-favorite, Colorado themed jerseys and helmets. During the first half of the game, players’ jerseys will be up for auction online, along with the team’s 2018 Lacrosse Out Cancer jerseys, at Mammoth.gesture.com so fans can take home a piece of the Colorado Pride game magic.”
Both games will be featured on NLLTV.com. The match versus the Georgia Swarm will be on at Friday, March 2nd at 7:35 pm EST and the game against the Bandits can be seen on Saturday, March 3rd at 9:00 PM EST.